Raised in Sydney, Simon Anderson began his competitive career in 1971 with a juniors win at the Australian National Titles and the Bells Beach Classic contests. Known for his power and easygoing style, Anderson became a frontrunner in many local and international competitions, placing second in the Australian National Titles in 76’, fourth at the 77’ Pipeline Masters, and winning the 77’ Bells and Coke Surfabout. Those wins in 77’, on single-fin boards, put him into the top 10 on the ASP Tour and gave him a chance of taking the title, until the twin-fin intervened.
Fellow Aussie Mark Richards had created a twin-fin design which greatly helped sharp turns on steep waves, by always having one fin deep in the wave. The twin-fin was capable of performing in the poor wave conditions and locations that the ASP events were often held at that time. Within months, surfers on this design were winning most of the competitions, but it was badly unsuited to Anderson’s size (over six feet tall) and style. He simply overpowered the twin fin and didn’t like the idea of having to ‘nurse’ the board through turns, and stated at the time that he wasn’t going to compromise his surfing to adapt to the design.
That’s when Anderson went to work on perfecting the existing three fin concept (a single fin with two smaller outer fins) for added power and stability. His prototype featured three equal-size fins so he named it “Thruster” because the water gets pushed through the fins in the turn. According to Anderson, the single fin (just) holds that speed through a turn whereas with the twin fins, obviously the speed was quickly released and you’d just zip along. The third fin was controlling that thrust throughout the turn.
Anderson’s Thruster design was met with skepticism initially, thought perhaps merely a gimmick, or only for Anderson’s particular size and style. Following design enhancements in 1981, he won the Bells Beach Classic and the Coke Surfabout in Sydney, for a second time, then later the Pipe Masters at Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii. Those victories silenced the critics and brought the thruster to everyone’s attention; from 1984 onward every world champion has used a thruster.
“What Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple) and the “iPhone and iPad” have done for the World, Simon Anderson and the “Thruster” have done for the Sport of Surfing’” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai. “Just as the iPhone and iPad revolutionized consumer technology; the Thruster revolutionized and advanced our Sport of Surfing!
“Simon has given generations of surfers the gift of progression and the ability to do what they can do today! We are honored and extremely excited that Simon Anderson will be inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame this summer!”